Will We­in­stein ever take abuse charges se­ri­ously?

The Chronicle - - Stateside -

AF­TER some three decades of al­leged abuse, last week, Har­vey We­in­stein fi­nally swapped strolling the Os­cars’ red car­pet for a walk of shame into a New York po­lice sta­tion.

It took more than 70 women, each of whom claims to be ei­ther a vic­tim of rape, sex­ual as­sault or in­de­cent ex­po­sure at his hands, to come for­ward be­fore the Hol­ly­wood hor­ror was forced to face jus­tice.

Go­ing as far back as the Nineties, We­in­stein ruled with fear. Any­one who dares stand up to or speak out against the movie mogul was black­listed, their ca­reers de­stroyed.

So the sight of the pur­ported preda­tor in cuffs, fit­ted with an an­kle bracelet and charged with rape, will have no doubt brought a scin­tilla of sat­is­fac­tion to those he is al­leged to have abused.

But there is still a long way to go be­fore they can con­tem­plate joy and re­lief.

For years We­in­stein avoided his day of reck­on­ing, do­ing ev­ery­thing in his vast power to pre­vent it, de­spite his vic­tims’ ac­counts leav­ing lit­tle doubt as to the emo­tional and phys­i­cal dis­tress he caused.

On the odd oc­ca­sion some­one threat­ened to go public, he ei­ther bought his ac­cuser’s si­lence, or set loose his pit­bull lawyers. He is even said to have used ex-Mos­sad spies and en­ablers in the Amer­i­can press to dis­credit the claims against him.

The few who were un­moved by his bully-boy tac­tics, were then let down by the law and the Man­hat­tan dis­trict at­tor­ney, Cy Vance Jr.

In 2015 the celebrity pros­e­cu­tor re­fused to bring charges against We­in­stein de­spite Ital­ian beauty queen Am­bra Bat­ti­lana Gu­tier­rez record­ing him on an NYPD wire ad­mit­ting he groped her.

Af­ter tak­ing no ac­tion in the case, Vance then failed to pros­e­cute the pro­ducer on two other rape al­le­ga­tions brought by ac­tress Paz de la Huerta.

Her lawyer called the DA’s ac­tions “star­tlingly sim­i­lar” to the way he dealt with Gu­tier­rez.

Vance could un­doubt­edly have brought more charges against We­in­stein, in­volv­ing more women who’ve al­leged sex­ual as­sault by him, were it not for New York statutes of lim­i­ta­tion that place strict dead­lines on many non-forcible felony as­saults. In­deed, for the 2004 rape in­ci­dent he has been charged with, pros­e­cu­tors will have to prove to a grand jury and then a jury, that We­in­stein forced the sex­ual con­tact – oth­er­wise, the statute of lim­i­ta­tions could make sus­tain­ing a con­vic­tion al­most im­pos­si­ble. The pro­s­ec­tuors have a long road ahead to prove their case, against what will un­doubt­edly be a team of the best lawyers money can buy.

It is a fact We­in­stein knows only too well and prob­a­bly ex­plains why he waltzed out of the po­lice sta­tion with a smug grin on his face af­ter be­ing charged, de­spite hav­ing to hand over $1mil­lion in bail.

His at­tor­neys will claim his ac­tions were merely bad be­hav­iour not crim­i­nal. They will say he is in­no­cent and ar­gue he did noth­ing wrong in a le­gal sense.

But what is cer­tain is that he did noth­ing right in a de­cent sense.

In his de­nial of the charges, the pro­ducer’s lawyer has al­ready told the court: “Mr We­in­stein did not in­vent the cast­ing couch in Hol­ly­wood”.

Maybe not, but what he did was take it and turn it into an emo­tional tor­ture cham­ber.

He did not see his vic­tims as hu­man be­ings. He saw them as women he could use and abuse. Sure We­in­stein may have left court on Fri­day with­out his pass­port, but he also left with that re­volt­ing smirk.

We­in­stein clearly still doesn’t get it. He still can’t see the mon­ster that we all see.

Har­vey We­in­stein is led out of the New York Po­lice De­part­ment’s First Precinct – the po­lice of­fi­cer seems to ap­pre­ci­ate the se­ri­ous na­ture of the sit­u­a­tion even if We­in­stein doesn’t

Rape ac­cuser: Ac­tress Paz de la Huerta

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